“What is a woman that you are mindful of her?” Aspects of irony and honour in Luke 7:36-50

  • Elna Mouton
Keywords: Forgiveness, Pharisee, Honour & shame, (Im)purity, Irony, Art of “seeing”


Unlike the other three gospel writers, Luke places the account of a woman anointing Jesus outside the passion narrative, in the context of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. The article explores rhetorical mechanisms through which the narrator of Luke 7:36-50 presents the story of Jesus’ anointing by a woman publicly known as “a sinner”, while eating with a Pharisee named Simon. The passage is firstly situated within the broad literary context of Luke’s gospel. A brief analysis of the narrative focuses secondly on Jesus’ identity and authority as “a friend of sinners”. The essay finally investigates aspects of irony and honour in the passage, with particular reference to the reversal of roles—both of the Pharisee and the woman.